Palestine: Joint Advocacy Initiative

Commitment to peace and human rights - Joint Advocacy Initiative. A program that sensitizes people worldwide to the difficult situation of the Palestinians.

The «Joint Advocacy Initiative» (JAI) is a joint programme of YMCA East Jerusalem and YWCA Palestine with the aim of drawing the attention of young people and partners worldwide to the difficult situation in Palestine. In addition, non-violent means of resolving the conflict are propagated in one's own society and networking with other civil society organisations is promoted. The "Olive Tree Campaign" also makes an important contribution to preserving the livelihoods of Palestinian olive farmers.

Background and programme context

YMCA was founded in Palestine at the end of the 19th century and is thus a long-established Palestinian institution. YWCA of Palestine was founded in 1918. The history of YMCA and YWCA in Palestine is closely linked to Palestinian-Israeli history. After the emergence of the Israeli state and the related wave of refugees in 1948, YMCA and YWCA were among the first organisations to establish services for children and young people in the refugee camps of the West Bank.

Horyzon has been working with YMCA East Jerusalem since 1993 and with YWCA Palestine for more than 10 years. In addition to the Joint Advocacy Initiative, both organisations run other programmes, such as the reintegration programme for disabled and traumatised young people or vocational training centres for young people and young women.
The services of the Joint Advocacy Initiative are open to all young people, regardless of their religious and political affiliation, and meet their basic needs for dignity, peace and security.

Target Groups

60 young Palestinians in youth groups who regularly participate in workshops and international exchange programmes. 125 other Palestinian youth trained in workshops or participating in campaigns. 165 young people from other countries getting to know the situation on the ground. 120 Palestinian families benefiting from the "olive tree campaign". In addition, a large part of the Palestinian population is reached through media campaigns.
JAI also reaches around 11,000 people abroad and various non-governmental organisations and UN organisations through awareness-raising campaigns.


The aim of the Joint Advocacy Initiative is to draw the attention of young people and partners worldwide to the difficult situation in Palestine and to sensitise decision-makers in international organisations to the ongoing conflict situation. In addition, non-violent means of resolving the conflict are propagated in one's own society and networking with other civil society organisations is promoted.

Activities & Effects

Awareness raising, advocacy and human rights work for young people


Developing and conducting training workshops for young Palestinians to impart knowledge of human rights and international law. Participation of JAI youth groups in exchange programmes with young people from JAI partners abroad. Organisation of excursions for the JAI youth groups. Implementation of youth camps. Conducting conferences with participants from different countries. Co-organization of an event on the "International Day of Prayer for Peace". Co-organization of the "Shepherds Nights Festival".


Young people in Palestine are sensitised to non-violent methods of conflict resolution and actively participate in human rights and peace campaigns.

International Cooperation and Networking


Visit YMCA/YWCA organizations in other countries. Carrying out the educational and meeting trips "Journey for Justice" and "Witness Visit". Organisation of study trips for students and young people. Organization of an event on the "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People". Recruitment of international volunteers who work for JAI in Palestine and continue their commitment after their return to their home countries.


Young people from other countries, international YMCA/YWCA organisations and other non-governmental organisations carry out independent actions and events in their home countries to raise awareness of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and to promote the rights of the Palestinian population.

Olive Tree Campaign


Carrying out actions to plant olive trees and pick olives for about 275 participants. Training and support for olive farmers whose land is threatened by confiscation. Quarterly publication of a magazine on the "Olive Tree Campaign". Production and distribution of olive tree calendars. Production of short films informing about the olive tree campaign.


International sponsors and volunteers make an important contribution to securing the livelihood and the rights of Palestinian olive farmers.

Results 2021

Awareness raising,  advocacy and human rights work for young people
  • 234 young Palestinians participated in advocacy and human rights trainings.
  • 150 international young people were educated about the Palestinian context and human rights issues through online webinars.
  • The "Come and See" and "Journey for Justice" programs for international youth delegations could not be implemented.
  • International youth groups conducted 41 Palestine awareness campaigns in their home countries, reaching approximately 4,000 people. The campaigns raised USD 17,000 for JAI.
  • Approximately 90% of Palestinian youth who participated in human rights training participated in social and political processes in their communities.
  • 45 young people who participated in JAI advocacy and human rights trainings took a leading role in establishing a student parliament with 500 members.
International cooperation and networking
  • 37 international partner organizations carried out advocacy and awareness-raising activities for a just peace in Israel/Palestine in their countries.
  • Nine international partner organizations held discussions with their respective governments on the human rights situation in Israel/Palestine.
  • As a result of the advocacy work of international partners, two successes were recorded: The South Korean government will send a commission of inquiry to Palestine to investigate suspected violations of Palestinian children's rights. The Japanese government issued a statement on the situation in Gaza during the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas and offered mediation talks to de-escalate the situation.


Olive tree campaign
  • 23,905 olive trees were distributed to 373 farming families.
  • 105 Palestinian youth helped plant the olive trees and harvest the olives.
  • 17,600 people showed their solidarity with Palestinian olive farmers by donating olive trees.
  • 2,050 people were able to strengthen their livelihoods thanks to the olive tree campaign.
  • The beneficiary olive farmers stated that thanks to the support they are more connected to their land, more resilient and more willing to fight for their rights. They also look to the future with hope on an economic level.
  • New partnerships with Palestinian agricultural organizations will enable olive growers to gain the knowledge they need to care for and maintain their trees in the future.

Results 2020

International cooperation and networking
  • 35 international events with the focus on just peace were carried out.
  • JAI has been involved in 33 international Zoom meetings focusing on just peace and the Palestinian situation.
  • JAI published 10 advocacy statements in the international network with the intention to stand up for a just peace in Palestine and therefor sharing the statements.
Olive tree campaign
  • 12’075 olive trees were planted, donated from 4'740 international sponsors. 
  • 171 olive growers were able to strengthen the right to their land which led to a sustainable improvement of their and their families basis of life (in total 872 people). 
  • Even through the covid pandemic 112 international students and 60 Palestinian adolescents were able to help with the olive harvest. 
Awareness raising, advocacy and human rights work for young people
  • 160 Palestinian youth attended a training course on democratic and national rights, identity, citizenship and/or geopolitical situation.
  • 89 international adolescents participated in a week long virtual educational trip organised by JAI. 

Results 2019

Olive tree campaign
  • 11’900 olive trees were planted, enabling 129 olive farmers and their families (695 people in total) to improve their resilience and livelihood.
  • 1’301 international students helped with the olive harvest and gained a better understanding of the olive tree campaign. 85% of the students carried out awareness raising work in their home countries.
  • Various groups helped plant the sponsored olive trees and thus contributed to the protection of the olive farmers.
Awareness raising, advocacy and human rights work for young people
  • 280 Palestinian youth attended a training course on democratic and national rights, identity, citizenship and/or geopolitical situation.
  • 47 Palestinian youth participated in exchange programs and gave 25 lectures on the promotion of a just peace.
International cooperation and networking
  • At 6 international events, 11 young people trained by JAI were able to draw attention to the situation of the Palestinian population.
  • 33 delegations with a total of 360 participants visited JAI and were informed about the activities of JAI. 97% of the participants reported that they had developed a better knowledge and understanding of the Palestinian context and issues related to the promotion of a just peace in Palestine.

Results 2018

Olive tree campaign

  • 13'620 olive trees have been planted
  • 114 internatioanl students from Denmark and Norway now have a better understanding of the olive tree campagin and 80% of them did further promote it in their countries.
  • Various groups of volunteers helped planting the olive trees.

Sensitisation, advocacy and human rights work for young people

  • 225 young people attended a training on democratic and national rights, identity, citizenship and/or geopolitical situation.
  •  196 Danish and Norwegian students were informed about the Palestinian context. At least 80 students organized activities in their countries to promote OTC. 42 Palestinian students accompanied the international students on their visit to Palestine.

International cooperation and networking

  • Participation in the Middle East regional meetings of the YMCA's and YWCA's.
  • Participation in the World Council of YMCA's.
  • Participation at the International Peace Convention in South Korea
  • "Speaking Tour in the UK, organized by Embrace the Middle East.
  • Participation in the 9th International Palestinean Kairos Conference
  • Organization of a 2-day witness visit of YMCA/YWCA participants at the International Youth Conference
  • 13 delegations of partners (325 members) visited JAI and were informed about the activities of JAI.

Results 2017

Program Part "Advocacy"

  • Representative of eight diplomatic missions to Tel Aviv and Ramallah to talk about the humanitarian crises in the occupied Palestinian territory. The meeting was organized by the UN Office for Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs(UNOCHA) at a house of a JAI farmer beneficiary. JAI gave a presentation about the difficulties the Palestinian farmers face as a result of the Israeli measures.
  • In cooperation with the Alumni Unit of Al-Najah National University in Nablus, the JAI organized a training session in Democratic Citizenship and another on Just Peace , in July 2017, for a total of 40 of the University' 2nd and 3rd year Law and Political Science students.The training aimed at educating the students in international and humanitarian law, democratic citizenship, Palestinian cause and peace issue on the local and international levels.
  • The JAI carried out a 2-day training, in cooperation with the YMCA Rehabilitation Program, on the 30th of November and 2nd of December 2017, for 19 Palestinian political ex-prisoners youth, from the Bethlehem and Hebron areas, in the ages between 16 and 19. The youth were detainees and prisoners at the Israeli jails for resisting the occupation and injustice.

Olive Tree Campaign

  • During the planting season( Dec-March) JAI has planted a total 11,700 olive trees in 122 fields located in 20 villages in Bethlehem, Qalqilia, Ramallah, Hebron and Gaza. These trees were sponsored by some 1430 entities including individuals and organizations.
  • In coordination with the YMCA Rehabilitation program, the OTC organized a special day of olive picking and invited 10 people with various disabilities to participate in the activity. The JAI team and the Rehabilitation Program took this initiative to help in the process of reintegrating people with disabilities within the society and the advocacy work.

Main Outcomes

  • 247 Palestinian youths were trained and became aware of their rights and well informed and skilled to call out their rights locally and internationally.
  • 321 internationals visited Palestine through JAI and became aware of the Palestinian living condition and context and engaged in working for a just peace with different capacities.


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Further information

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Facts about the program

Title: Joint Advocacy Initiative
Partner organisation: YMCA East Jerusalem and YWCA Palestine
Location: Beit Sahour
Goal: Awareness of the difficult situation, networking, conflict-free life and securing the livelihood of olive farmers.
Target group: Directly about 440 young people, 130 families of the olive tree campaign. Worldwide approx. 11'000 persons.
Required funds 2022: CHF 48'000
Duration: 2021-2024 / Initiated January 2001
Responsible: Isabelle Aebersold

Facts about Palestine

Capital: East Jerusalem
Population: 4.8 mill.
Human Development Index: 0.708 (rank 115.)
Life expectancy: 74 years
Median age: 20.8 years
Youth unemployment (15-24 years): 42%

Source: Human Development Report